Sunday, 26 June 2011

Dancing Shoes

Gertie has just taken part in her second Irish-dancing class. She loves dancing, and aged four, has already been doing ballet for more than two years. As a child I loved Irish-dancing, and carried on taking part in competitions until I was thirty, (albeit with a long break through my late teens and early twenties!) I loved the excitement of the feis and all the dressing-up that went with it. But at twenty-eight weeks pregnant with baby number three, my dancing days are well and truly over. So the item that has inspired this blog-post in response to Jodie's writing prompts this week are my tired and worn-out shoes, next to Gertie's shiny new and very, very tiny ones.

It is a personality cat-walk as I revist old loves: nostalgic, but memories faded at the edges, a little tarnished on reflection. And watch history repeating itself!


A restless night: my hair in lumpy rags.
For this six-year-old white-dreadlocked dreamer
The unroutine 5am start
Prevents sleep more than the tight wound curls.
In the morning the ritual unwinding,
A mess of ribboned ringlets scooped to top-knot.
Not really a look for London, circa 1980.
Then soft leather shoes lattice-laced
Like twisted liquorice around poodle socks
Thickening my ankles. A racing greyhound,
Hungry for the hare. But my chase was for a trophy
In the jig; a shiny medal in the reel;
Highly commended in the horn-pipe,
And my mother: glowing, proud and smiling.

Now I see the glitz under glare of bare Whitechapel bulb;
Fuss and pomp and empty Gaelic line.
McEvoy by name: a tired cultural link,
Forcing Irishness under lure of dress and gloss.
As I enrol my daughter in her Irish dancing class.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Tie for First Place

What is wrong with this picture of two beautiful princesses all dressed up?

Nothing at all, except that this is Gertie and Gilby. My son appears to be very much in touch with his feminine side: His other favourite costume is a mermaid one...

But we were at their lovely cousin's christening at the weekend, and Gilby dressed up smartly for the occasion.

I get the feeling that his father is much happier when the little man is wearing a shirt and tie!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Gangsta Nap

Gilby is eight weeks away from his second birthday, but the terrible twos have well and truly arrived. My usually smiley, happy, very good natured little boy is occasionally kidnapped and substituted for a little horror who looks remarkably similar. But when this doppelganger is present, we have regular screaming tantrums, the comedy grumpy face, the inflexible torso, the poker-straight back, the kicking and lashing out, and the repeated no's regardless of what the question is:

"Would you like a biscuit?"
"Would you like a birthday party?"
"Would you like to stand up?"
"Sit down?"
"No, no, NO!"
"Would you like to scream your head off all day long?"
Well stop doing it then....

We had one such incident the other night at bedtime.

Usual bedtime routine - supper, bath, Bedtime Hour on CBeebies, then milk in the rocking chair whilst I read my Kindle. In case this sounds heartless, it is at his behest. "Mummy, read Kindle!" (Sentences generally take an imperative form at the moment.)

When he has had enough of his milk he thrusts it forward and whispers, "Finished...bed." At this point, I tuck him in, leave his little wind-up cot-music playing, turn out the light and gently close the door. He might sing to himself for a little while, but usually he is asleep within a few minutes. (Lest this all sound too good to be true, let me reassure you that he will be up at least once and probably twice later during the night...)

Anyway, on the night in question, instead of the cosy little scenario described above, a purple-faced, snot-ridden, screaming tantrum from hell ensued. Nothing could calm him, and I resorted to leaving him crying in his cot for a while. I couldn't pick him up anyway, given the rigid back, clenched fists and kicking (not great for my 26 week 'baby tummy').

But the little man has learned how to reach over from the cot, open his door and turn the light on. The tantrum meant that Gertie couldn't get to sleep, so I had to drag the cot into the middle of the room in an effort to keep the door closed and contain the noise. After fifteen minutes had passed he still didn't seem to have calmed down at all. I had to go back in, and I braved his angry lashing out. I sat stubbornly in the rocking chair repeatedly offering the milk and singing. (Somewhere Over the Rainbow, his favourite from tiny.) His reaction was to punch me repeatedly in the mouth.

I persisted. Eventually, the rigid, angry little body went limp in my arms and he reached out for his bottle, snuggling back into his usual position.

He slid the bottle to one side of his mouth so that only the corner of his lips was moving and, menacing like some mafiosa gangster, gave his snarling, whispered demand that I 'Sing that Song!'

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Double Bean Surprise

There wasn't much left in the fridge: half a tin of baked beans, some left over new potatoes from a few nights ago, a handful of green beans. Supper-time loomed, but we had had a lovely picnic whilst walking the dog earlier in the day, and I knew, or rather, suspected, that the kids wouldn't eat very much. What to do? Mix those three ingredients together, and call it, 'Double-bean surprise'.

I called them in from the garden, trying to muster as much enthusiasm for the dish as I could. 'Double-bean surprise' echoed Gilby with a shriek and a degree of excitement not really appropriate to the level of culinary achievement that awaited him. But, in his defence, he is at that stage where he just mimics absolutely everything I say.

A few minutes later there was silence in the kitchen. Gertie smacked her lips as her bowl emptied. "Mummy, I love Double-bean surprise," she gushed.

Oh. Right. Gilby mashed quite a lot of it into his shirt; still, 'Double-bean surprise' was clearly a hit. I probably need to be sending Annabel Karmel the recipe. Feel free to use it in the meantime!